Way back in March, when I turned 18, I told my friends, “Get me cookbooks!” And… cookbooks I got! 🙂 The one I’ve used the most so far is the Good Housekeeping Best-Loved Desserts, but I think the most unique and beautifully photographed one is definitely Baked Explorations. The photos are gorgeous and mouthwatering, and the recipes are all over the map. From Salt & Pepper Sandwich Cookies (which are the cover picture), to Tomato Soup Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting, to Nutella Scones (which you better believe I will make and post about soon!), all of their treats are fun and innovative spins on old favorites. Anyways, enough ranting, but I adore this cookbook! 🙂
These oatmeal turtle bars are so freaking delicious. They may not look like they have that much potential, but they are most definitely a diamond in the rough! The buttery oatmeal crust is almost like a shortbread with added crunch, and a layer of pecans, mixed chocolate chips, and homemade caramel make this perfection! A sprinkling of extra oatmeal topping on top seals the deal. These will blow your mind! And, they’re so easy-peasy, you can’t NOT make them. I had a little problem though… I followed the directions exactly when I made the caramel, and I’m not sure if it called for too much butter or what, but my caramel was covered by a layer of butter “suds” the whole time it was cooking, which made seeing the color underneath really tricky! It tasted fine, but it was pretty liquid, and you can barely taste it in the bars. But, it melted the chocolate beautifully and I think it helped keep the chocolate layer from getting rock-hard in the fridge. Enough talking, here is how you make these delicious babies!
Oatmeal Turtle Bars
Adapted from Heartland Turtle Bars from Baked Exploration
Yields: one 13×9 pan
1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (the original advises dark brown, but I used light brown and it worked fine)
1 3/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup pecans, chopped into large pieces
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I used a mix of milk, dark, and semisweet)
For the Caramel Filling:
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tbsp heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grab a 13×9 glass or light-colored metal pan, and spray it with nonstick spray, then line with parchment paper, and spray or butter the parchment.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the brown sugar, and use your hands to rub it in. This is especially important if there’s lumps in your brown sugar! Add in the oats, and stir until evenly combined. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the melted butter. Stir until the entire mixture is evenly moistened and combined.
Spread about two-thirds of the oatmeal mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan, pressing slightly, and bake for about 10 minutes. When done, remove the pan from the open to cool, but leave the oven on. Sprinkle the pecans and chocolate chips on the warm crust.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the sugar and butter (for the caramel) together. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly (the caramel will darken quickly). Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the heavy cream, and pour on top of the chocolate chips and pecans. Use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute the caramel. Sprinkle on top the remaining oatmeal mixture, and bake in the oven for 10-12 more minutes.
Let the bars cool in the pan for 15-30 minutes, then place the pan in the refrigerator and chill for 1 hour before cutting. Store at room temperature or in the refrigerator, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. But, with this Texas heat, I didn’t even think about taking mine out of the fridge. 🙂